Opportunity of a lifetime for CQ indigenous league player
ROCKHAMPTON Leagues Club Capras recruit Bobby Nona joins a host of former Central Queensland stars who will take part in what could become the two most memorable weeks of their lives when they take centre stage at the 2014 Festival of Indigenous Rugby League.
Head coach Laurie Daley named Nona, Norths Chargers junior and Ipswich Jets fullback Javarn White, ex-Capras centre Joshua Benjamin and towering former Capras prop Reggie Saunders in his 16-man First Nations Goannas squad which will take on a Wayne Bennett-coached Newcastle Knights in a trial match at Newcastle's Hunter Stadium on February 8.
The 16 players will be joined by four current and/or former NRL players in the First Nations Goannas team.
"This event provides a really special opportunity for 16 young men to show their skills against an NRL squad and hopefully open the door to a start in the NRL in the near future," Daley said.
In place of the traditional All Stars match, the trial match will cap off a week-long celebration that will feature community engagement and matches between the New South Wales and Queensland Indigenous women's teams and NSW and Qld under-16 boys teams; and the annual Kurri v Koori Interstate Challenge.
The First Nation Goannas team was selected by former Dally M Player of the Year Preston Campbell and ex-Australian fullback David Peachey, with input from Daley.
The week prior to the camp and trial match, Nona and his Goannas teammates will have the opportunity to train with Sydney-based NRL clubs, providing them with the chance to experience an elite NRL playing environment with access to coaching, nutrition and training advice.
Daley will name the additional four NRL players to join the Goannas in January.
2012 NRL All Stars coach Bennett said the trial was a great opportunity for the 16 country footballers and would help his Knights team prepare for the 2014 NRL season.
"This trial provides a great opportunity for young indigenous players to compete against NRL players while also ensuring the momentum of this special celebration is continued," he said.
"It is a privilege for Newcastle to host The Festival of Indigenous Rugby League. This game will form an important part of our pre-season as we get ready for season 2014."
Players will head into camp on February 3.